Google’s Brin: “A Shame” That Yahoo Out Of Search

Try as they might Yahoo is having a tough time convincing people that it’s still “in search.” On Yahoo’s earnings call earlier this week CFO Tim Morse, who led the call because CEO Carol Bartz was ill, used her analogy to describe Yahoo’s new way of positioning itself around search:

The next revolution isn’t with the algorithms that provide results, it’s in creating a better, more personally relevant search experience. This is where we’ll differentiate ourselves and compete vigorously without the billions required to keep up in the arms race that generating search results has become.

Let me give you an analogy that Carol has been using to explain this point. Consider basic search to be an Intel chip. An Intel chip is used in Dells, HPs and Macs to provide the computation needed to operate them but the differentiation between these products isn’t at the chip level, it’s in the different user experiences that are provided on top of them. It’s the same for us in search. We’ll innovate on top of the results that are provided to us by Microsoft.

While a clever way to discuss Yahoo’s new role, vis-a-vis Bing (the algo “chip”) it doesn’t seem to be convincing many industry insiders.

Yesterday at the Web2.0 event in San Francisco Google co-founder Sergey Brin made a “surprise” visit and talked about a range of things. Dow Jones newswires captured some of the discussion. Specifically Brin lamented the “abdication” of search by Yahoo. Here’s TechCrunch’s version of the relevant part of the exchange between Brin and interviewer John Battelle:

JB: Do you like Bing? You a Bing users?

SB: I use all search engines out there. Bing reminds us that search is a competitive market. There’s Powerset that Microsoft bought. There’s Cuil. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on. It’s a shame Yahoo is abdicating.

JB: They would say they’re not.

SB: Sorry that was my impression.

JB: Do you have a comment on Microsoft/Yahoo search deal?

SB: I shouldn’t comment on that. But Yahoo had some interesting things, they should stick with it.

The Cuil folks should be pleased that Brin gave them a shout out.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Web Search | Microsoft: Bing | Top News | Yahoo: Business Issues | Yahoo: Search | Yahoo: User Interface

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://stroseo.com stroseo

    Yahoo does make an interesting comparison to search being like a Intel chip. So what chip do they have right now, AMD?

    I do like what yahoo offers in terms of user experience but the problem is that their “chip” is bad. So while Google sticks to what it knows works, simplicity, Yahoo is banking on users that are looking for something more. With they majority of their efforts in user experience, they very well may achieve their goals.

    It’s fairly clear that what they have been doing is merely keeping them alive. In order to strive they need to do something new, something innovative. Either way, they have landed and burned their boats, there is no going back, its survive or die.

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